Churchill Downs opened its fall meet with the 13th annual “Stars of Tomorrow I” program featuring a card restricted to juveniles only.
Fight On lived up to his name while kicking off the stakes action in the $100,000 Spendthrift Juvenile Stallion Stakes under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.
The Steve Asmussen trainee stuck his head in front to score in a five-horse photo on the wire as the 5-1 fourth choice in the eight-horse field. Captivating Moon rallied from near the rear to take second by a neck over Dream Baby Dream, who in turn had a head to spare on 74-1 longshot O’Malley’s March. John Tippmann wrapped up the photo just a nose back in fifth.
“We got a perfect trip today and when the horses got to him in deep stretch he fought hard to get the win,” Santana said.
“He’s improved in every start and got a great trip today,” Asmussen stated.
Ezmosh, the 4-5 favorite, finished sixth while El Rubio and Just Be Frank completed the order under the line.
Fight On broke his maiden while stopping the clock in 1:24.87 for seven furlongs on the fast main track in this spot for Spendthrift Farm, improving his record to 4-1-2-0, $80,340.
“We are very surprised we won this race but we have a great trainer and jockey that helped us get there today,” said B. Wayne Hughes, owner of Spendthrift Farm which sponsored the race for juvenile offspring sired by any active or non-active Spendthrift stallions.
The Into Mischief colt was bred in Kentucky by Haymarket Farm LLC and is out of the unraced Elusive Quality mare Havenlass, who is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Belterra. That latter mare produced last year’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) heroine, Cathryn Sophia.
One race later, Monomoy Girl romped on the front end to a 6 1/2-length triumph in the $82,670 Rags to Riches Stakes with Florent Geroux along for the ride. The pair were never challenged while finishing a mile on the dirt in 1:36.29.
“I was a little surprised how relaxed she was on the lead,” Geroux admitted. “She was flipping her ears back and forth on the backstretch. She’s been training well over the dirt surface in the mornings and she proved she liked it in the afternoon.”
Trained by Brad Cox for Michael Dubb and Monomoy Stables LLC, the Tapizar filly remains perfect from three career starts after taking her stakes bow in this spot and has banked $99,350 in lifetime earnings.
The easy win also put Monomoy Girl on course for the $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes (G2) stretching out to 1 1/16 miles at Churchill on November 25.
“It was a really big effort,” Cox said. “She had two really nice breezes coming into the race. Originally she really struggled out of the gate in training and that’s why we debuted her going long on the turf. She proved she handled the dirt today and Florent did a good job of getting to the front.
“The Golden Rod is the next logical spot for her as long as she comes out of the race in good shape.”
Bred by FPF LLC and Highfield Ranch in Kentucky, Monomoy Girl is out of the Henny Hughes mare Drumette, who is a half-sister to Grade 3 hero Drum Major.
Joseph W. Sutton’s Sultry doubled her career earnings to $126,606 when taking the $100,000 Spendthrift Juvenile Filly Stallion Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths. The Eddie Kenneally charge ran seven furlongs on the main track under Corey Lanerie in 1:24.51 to earn her first stakes victory in her second try.
The final time was .36 seconds faster than Fight On’s triumph in the Juvenile division.
“Her running style is to come from behind so even though speed has been holding today we didn’t want to change too much except get her into the race earlier,” Lanerie said. “We had a perfect trip up the rail and with the early fractions the field came back to us a bit which helped. Eddie and his team have done a phenomenal job training her and she was ready to run today.”
Sultry broke her maiden at Ellis Park and was sixth next out in the Pocahontas Stakes (G2) under the Twin Spires. The Malibu Moon filly captured an allowance at Keeneland last out and now boasts a 5-3-0-0 scorecard.
“When we ran in the Pocahontas she was well back of a slow pace. To close in a sprint race like this you have to get a perfect trip and Corey gave her a great ride,” Kennealy said. “We could eventually try her around two turns again this fall but we’ll see how she comes out of things.”
Bred in Kentucky by Three Chimneys Farm LLC, Sultry is out of the Argentinean-bred Giant’s Causeway mare Viva Carina, who was Grade 2-placed during her time on track. This is the same female family as Grade 1 winner Avanzado.
Lothenbach Stables Inc.’s Gotta Go wrapped up the stakes action on Churchill’s opening day card, rallying from near the back of the $83,001 Street Sense Stakes under jockey Chris Landeros to stick his head in front of Lone Sailor on the wire.
“I’m so proud of his effort today,” Landeros said. “He’s like a big kid and is still learning. When we were closing late in the stretch he saw the horse to the inside and really stuck his head down to get the win. The future seems very bright for him to be able to show that ability against a field like this.”
The Shanghai Bobby colt just broke his maiden last out by 4 3/4 lengths under the Twin Spires for trainer Ian Wilkes, and posted a final time of 1:37.48 for a mile on the main track in taking his stakes bow in this spot. The gray colt boosted his resume to read 3-2-0-0, $80,510.
“He beat a solid field of horses today,” Wilkes said. “The runner-up just ran third in the Breeders’ Futurity ([G1] at Keeneland on October 7) so he had a lot more experience than we did.”
Gotta Go gutsy score in the Street Sense earned him a shot in the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) going 1 1/16 miles at Churchill on November 25.
“This horse is coming along slowly in his training and still learning a lot,” Wilkes said. “If he comes out of this race fine we’ll look to the Kentucky Jockey Club for his next start.”
Bred by Machmer Hall in Kentucky, Gotta Go is out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Disturbingly Hot.